When my eponymous album was released in 2007, this video was posted along with this ridiculous story about its history:
About twenty years ago, through the eighties, I was recording music that was getting national airplay on college radio. The lifestyle was a strain, and my first marriage broke up. After that, I basically suffered writer’s block and couldn’t complete a project. Then one night about three years ago, my wife tried to wake me up. I was drenched in sweat and talking strangely in my sleep, like I was speaking in tongues. She said “Eric, wake up,” at which point I said “I’m not Eric, I’m Jakob.” It happened again several times. She then videotaped me doing this. It was pretty strange watching myself on the video. I decided to add some graphics and a music bed and created a music video. It’s called ‘Nightsweats (Tongues of Jakob)’ and it’s up on YouTube. Anyway, I was having trouble sleeping since then, so I recorded the album. I’m glad the album is done. I’m sleeping again.
That is not how the song actually came about…
In the summer of 1984, when I was traveling in Europe prior to going to Poland, I met a young West German guy named Tarek. At his home in Hamburg, he put together a cassette for me with a bunch of obscure European bands. One of the tracks was titled ‘Apfelbuch’. Tarek told me the lyrics were from a Bertolt Brecht poem. I was never able to confirm it being a Brecht poem, though. The song was in German. It was very dark. He told me it was about a boy named Jakob Apfelbuch who dismembered his parents and put their bodies in a clothes hamper. The milkman asked him what the smell was, and he responded saying it was the meat in the refrigerator. The laundryman pressed him, saying it wasn’t just meat in the refrigerator, to which Apfelbuch said that it was the meat in the clothes hamper. As they led him away, Jakob Apfelbuch vowed to visit his parents graves each year and leave flowers.
Two years later, I recorded my own version of the song Tarek had written the German lyrics in my notebook. With my German language skills being non-existent, the words are severely mangled to German ears. Though the song remained unfinished, in 1995 I created a video around it for a project assignment at Columbia College. In 2007 I finally completed the song, re-titling it ‘Nightsweats (Tongues of Jakob)’. The butchering of the original German was so thorough that I decided to write out the phonetic gibberish text and claim it as my own under the new title. I updated the audio track in my student video project, posting it on YouTube along with the ridiculous promo story in support of the release of my eponymous album.